Ascension by Jacqueline KoyanagiAscension by Jacqueline Koyanagi is my favourite book of…2013??  Ok this has been out for a while now, but I am so glad I finally found it!  What an exciting combination of space opera, mysticism, and fantasy!  If you’re like me and missed out on this one initially, make up for past you’s miss and pick this up today!

A breach in reality brought a new people with revolutionary technology into the universe.  And in the greatest corporate conquest humanity has ever witnessed, Transliminal Solutions promptly took over nearly every industry on this side of the breach imaginable.  You worked for them, or you barely worked.  You took their medicine, or you barely survived.

Alana Quick is a sky surgeon and a damn good one at that.  But repairing starship engines is not as lucrative as it used to be.  Transliminal’s new technology, “dark energy,” doesn’t need engineers after all.  She manages to scrape together a living with her aunt Lai, repairing the few remaining ships that hobble into their shop.  Barely making enough to keep them supplied with the medicine that keeps their illness at bay, Alana dreams of leaving the dust of her dirt-heel life behind for the vastness of the Big Quiet.

When a starship arrives seeking out Alana’s spiritual guide sister, she seizes the opportunity to finally get away.  Leaving the planet, shop and her aunt behind, it’s a last-ditch effort to try to make enough money to pay for their desperately needed medication.  However, stowing away on the Tangled Axon leads to much more than she bargained for.  The captain is moody…and irresistibly dashing.  The strange crew have their own quandaries.  Their mission is taking them to the breach itself, and to the leader of a universe that will stop at nothing to get to Alana’s sister.

The Characters

Alana Quick is perpetually struggling.  Struggling with chronic pain, financially, with being planet-bound, with her relationships and with a world that sees her as obsolete.  But she pushes through it all, especially the pain.  It is not without some hiccups or occasional casualties, but she always presses on.  Her grit and determination are off the charts.  She is probably the strongest character I have ever read about.

Tev is the captain of the Tangled Axon and also a force to be reckoned with.  She treats her crew like family and has a fiery resolve.  The relationship between Alana and Tev is quite a slow burn and ends up having an interesting twist. The rest of the crew are quirky, interesting and add so much to the book.

The Writing Style

The story is told in the first person from Alana’s point of view which very effectively conveys her struggles and gives the reader an intimate glimpse into what it is like living with chronic pain.  The world building is not overly intricate but has an incredible combination of science fiction and mystical fantasy elements.  It is truly the characters are really the heart and soul of this story.

The Pros

What really stands out in this book for me is the characterization.  Koyanagi just infuses so much personality into each one of them.  There is also wonderful representation including main characters of colour, differently abled characters, sufferers of chronic pain, and different relationship structures are represented as well.

Oh, and Oh My God that cover!  It’s gorgeous!

The Cons

One, I didn’t find this book sooner.  Two, the initial intention was for this to be a series and it doesn’t look like that is going to happen which breaks my geeky, space opera-loving heart.

The Conclusion

Michelle's Favourite BooksI love this book so much.  It contains some of the best characters I’ve come across in a while.  And to sum it up… there are lesbians, of colour, with different abilities, and chronic pain, kicking arse in space and loving each other.  If you haven’t already taken off on this adventure, don’t wait any longer, because if you love space operas, you’re going to love the heck out of this.

Excerpt from Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi

Heat buffeted my face, whipping my locs behind me.  Sweat and dirt stung my eyes as I held my breath.

Please let their waveguides hold.  We can’t lose another ship.

Aunt Lai and I watched the Series IV Greenbelt disappear into the atmosphere, carrying a team of biosynths with it.  They couldn’t even think about seeding the universe with new species without a working ship, and that’s where we came in, the engineers: stitching together humanity’s lifeline out in the Big Quiet.

The biosynths could only cover half the labor costs for repairing their damaged waveguides, but we took the work anyway.  Money was money in this economy.  Even when it wasn’t enough money.

The team had cast impatient glances toward the sky while we worked, as if those naked planets might bioform without them.  I knew that look.  That craving to break free of the ground.  Dirt doesn’t feel right on the heels of someone born to be in the sky.

I’d had my hands in the entrails of so many ships I’d lost count, but even after over thirty system-years of life on Orpim, I’d never set foot off-planet.  An entire universe carried on without me out there in the silence while I kept everyone else flying.  I couldn’t tell you ow many nights I lost sleep imagining tendrils of electromagnetism arcing through the cosmos, holding together the galaxies and planets our biosynths ignited with life.  And there I was, a woman who yearned so hard for the sky there had to be starts in my blood, yet I was stuck in Heliodor City, missing it all.

Neither Lai nor I said the obvious as we stood with dust in our hair and mouths, watching the place in the sky where the Greenbelt had disappeared into the upper atmosphere.

Our last pending job.

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Bits and Bobs

Note: Ascension is part of the Tangled Axion series but no other books in the series have been published as this review goes live

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Note: I purchased a copy of Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site

About the author

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I live in Ontario, Canada. If I’m not seeking out my own adventures, I am reveling in the reading of the adventures of others.